In this interview Mike Mathieu, founder of Frontseat.org, discusses how he is helping to build “software for civic life”. Using publicly available data and web services (many of their applications use S3 and EC2) Frontseat creates simple, highly functional tools like Walkscore (rating neighborhood walkability) and Countmore (helping students in the recent elections decide which state to cast their vote in). Mike is also behind obamaCTO where you can add your opinion and cast your vote for what the new CTO of the USA’s priorities should be.
With the recent election there has been a lot of talk and enthusiasm for the possibility of a more open, modern government that operates with transparency and makes data available for remixing by it’s citizens. People have their eye on government to change…This is a worthy goal to push for but don’t hold your breath. The government of the United States is a behemoth that, all told, employs 12 million people and is preternaturally territorial and risk averse…
Pressing government to change is necessary but is not the only bet we should place. Mike makes the point in this video that we don’t need to wait for data that can improve civic life or increase transparency in government.
If you know of other examples of citizens improving civic life that deserve mention, please share them in the comments.
Part one of this interview is available here.